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By Angelica Niedermeyer, Assistant Sports Writer
The Manhattan College women’s basketball team is this year’s shining star. Led by the ever supportive coach Heather Vulin in her seventh season and three motivated captains: Dee Dee Davis, Brazil Harvey-Carr and Christinia Katsamouri, the Lady Jaspers deserve more praise than ever for their efforts this year.
Despite their current record of 0-2 in non-conference games against Wagner and Stony Brook this week, after being voted second in the preseason poll and Davis as preseason player of the year, the team shares their expectations for the bright season ahead.
“It’s an honor to be voted so high every time you’re recognized as one of the top three teams in the league,” said Davis, a senior guard. “However, we know that comes with a lot of responsibility. We want to continue adhering to the standards that our coaching staff demands of us and fight for that first place”.
Some may view the two losses already this season as a step backwards, but the team appears to be taking notes. They plan to carry out their anticipated preseason qualifying expectations on the court by using their teamwork skills and defensive assets to their advantage.
“I think it sounds very simple, or is very simple for us,” Davis said. “Doing what put us in these positions to be successful in the first place. [We are] not trying to make ESPN highlight things on every play, not trying to win on the first or second possession. What he’s going to do for us is be prepared and stay true to our defensive principles. [We are] not playing anyone’s competition, not playing anyone’s caliber or not letting anyone speed us up. [We are] just doing what we do best, which is rebounding, boxing and running fast.”
The team will not only advance because of their skills, but it will be the united dynamic of the team that shows up on the field and leads them to win.
“We will definitely bring our DNA to the pitch,” senior captain Katsamouri said. “I feel like what’s so special about us is our culture and this is something I think is one of the reasons why we ranked so highly and why we’ve been so successful last year.”
After an extremely close overtime loss to Wagner 60-63, which Vulin refers to as “the best Game 1 crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here” and a heavy setback to Stony Brook 51-69 , the team views losses this early in the season differently than others would.
“Unfortunately, we lost the first two games of our season, but this will allow us to stay focused on our principles and be mentally strong for the games we have before we play MAAC,” guard Harvey-Carr said.
The team’s outlook for the season is to learn from the other highly ranked teams not in their conference and win a championship in the MAAC. Although his current MAAC ranking is 7 out of 11, this is just the beginning for the Jaspers.
“I told the team, we scheduled a non-conference to play other teams that want to compete for championships,” Vulin said. “The first team we played with was chosen first in their league. The second team we played was chosen third. Next Saturday, when we open at home, we will play against another chosen team to win their league. We want to bring a championship to Jasper Nation. So, we have a very challenging schedule. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have a number of key injuries. Brazil is out, Petra is out, but they picked us second for a reason.”
Before Lady Jasper began her season, they were honored at the Manhattan Madness pep rally for the basketball teams and spirit squads. Despite the news of the departure of the men’s head coach and several players, it didn’t affect them because the women are stars themselves.
“We create our own energy and we feed off the energy of others,” Davis said. “We are always at 1,000 whether people realize that or not. We had an amazing meal and ceremony before the game with many loved ones and family. In our world, things went as expected. We were absolutely in awe of the love we received. We are absolutely so thankful for the faculty, staff, and everyone involved.”
The women’s team really deserved their time in the spotlight and he was grateful for earning it.
“It was our moment, said Katsamouri. “If we are friends. We love the men’s basketball team because we’re close, but at the end of the day it’s our season. We have many reasons to celebrate.
The women believe that Madness and its games attract different fans, so the men’s team has nothing to do with them and their season.
“I strictly believe that our fan base is based on our performances and how people view us on social media,” Harvey-Carr said. “They want to come out and support, not necessarily from the people who come to the men’s games or hear about the circumstances they are in.”